Martin's Nursery was founded in 1973 and has grown from a "hobby" house to over 40 irrigated acres of bed space. Growth has been steady for the past quarter century. Early expansion was limited to small parcels of land, purchased from other Martin family members, by our founders Buddy & Melba Martin.
The next phase of growth was fueled not only by the full time commitment by Buddy in 1980 but also by acquisition of land off site. At one point, four locations were being operated on Snow Road. Ultimately, the balance of the Martin family land, formerly Martin's Dairy, became available for sale.
All of our current operation is now in one location. Until recently this location was comprised of 200 continuous acres, including our Watkins Division. This was completed in 1998 and consists of five acres of gutter-connected greenhouses. These were erected in two separate ranges mostly for the purpose of winter protection. On cold winter nights, it's comforting to know that a portion of our investment is wrapped up snuggly in the far reaches of our 'backyard'. In June 2003, our 'backyard' expanded with the purchase of our neighbor of many years, Paul Dodd Nursery, bringing our total acreage to 280.
A narrow product line of container grown woody ornamentals comprises our mix. Pot sizes include 7's, 3's, full gallons, and trade gallons. Over 70 varieties of azaleas account for 80% of our plants, while the remaining 20% is made up of hollies, boxwood, cleyera and an expanding line of general woody ornamentals. Cleyera Japonica is our strongest specialty and is propagated from seed while everything else is started from cuttings.
Propagation planning is geared towards our two marketing goals, a generous supply of promotional trade gallon azaleas as well a seamless inventory of finished landscape grade plants. All potting is done by machine, either Javo or Ellis. The Javo is trailer mounted and used on location to fill beds of one or two gallon material with a seven man crew. Osmocote is dibbled and 72 cell packs are stepped up at the machine, which has a capacity of 24,000 gallons in a ten hour day.
Larger material is potted on the stationary Ellis machine using liner material ranging from cell packs to one gallon. Varying the liner size helps us to stagger our crops in stages. All soil mixes contain bark, while some have shavings, peat or sand. All are amended with lime, micromax, and talstar. Osmocote remains our primary fertilizer for dibbling while Polyon is used for top dressing.
Most irrigation water is pumped directly from wells through rainbird sprinklers. Runoff is collected in a series of retention basins through a system of concrete ditches. These ditches double as roads for loading trucks. Most spraying is done with shorter reentry interval products using a blower sprayer. Generous pruning is done using gas sheers.
Winter protection is emphasized and our roughly ten acres of total greenhouse space plays an important role. Many cultural practices are geared toward cold weather survival such as hardening off with tapered pruning and fertilizing. We continue to use 6 mil white poly and spun bonded fabric for covering nursery stock in the field using an in-bed board system for anchoring.